Evanston RoundTable
Family Focus building, formerly Foster School (RoundTable photo)

Good morning, Evanston.

The Fifth Ward of Evanston, the historic heart of the Black community in the west-central part of the City dating to the days of redlining, has not had a District 65 neighborhood school since Foster School was converted to a magnet in 1967 as part of the District’s then-novel desegregation plan.

It has not had a public school of any sort since Foster School, by then renamed as Martin Luther King Jr., Experimental Laboratory School (now King Arts), moved to its current location in the Second Ward in 1979. And for more than four decades, students in the Fifth Ward have been bused to either King Arts; the District’s other magnet school, Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies; or one of several attendance-area schools in mostly white sections of north Evanston, carved up based on a gerrymandered-looking map designed to achieve diversity.

The concept of restoring a school to Evanston’s Fifth Ward has surfaced recently for what is now the fifth time since King Lab was relocated, this time as a proposal for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) magnet school that would serve the entire District but likely give some level of preference to students in the neighborhood. Read here for a thorough account of prior proposals to reinstate a school in the Fifth Ward, the current plan, along with reactions from the community, the District 65 School Board and administration.

Tonight, the Evanston Public Library is holding the first in a two-part discussion series on the history of school segregation in Evanston and plans for the new school. The second meeting will be held next Thursday, May 20, and both discussions will be virtual; registration is available online.

In City news, members of the newly installed City Council will get the chance to make the call on staff recommended changes to the way ethics complaints are heard. At Monday night’s meeting of the outgoing Council, Alderperson Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, requested to hold over action on a staff-recommended proposal to eliminate the current Ethics Board, which is composed of residents, replacing it with hearing officers hired and paid by the City. The “hold” in effect leaves it to the next City Council to consider who sits on the Ethics Board. 

In a recent interview with the RoundTable, Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook reflects on issues central to the department’s mission – establishing trust between police and residents: “To establish a great relationship, we have to be in a position to hear – to listen to what the public wants in a police department that is here to serve them.” He also discusses plans to incorporate “sanctity of life,” “proportionality,” and other recommendations into the department’s use-of-force policy.

Elsewhere on the RoundTable Website

NAACP Evanston Branch ‘Votercade’ Part of National John Lewis Voting Rights Action Day. The Evanston/North Shore NAACP hosted a John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Votercade and community engagement celebration on May 8. Voting rights advocates in more than 150 cities across the country simultaneously took to the streets in voter motorcades, or “votercades,” to raise awareness and create energy around protecting the right to vote.

COVID-19 Update on May 12: ­­­­­­­­­­­­8 New Cases in Evanston, 1,795 in the State. In another sign that the State is opening up, Governor JB Pritzker kicked off today a campaign to promote travel and tourism across the State. Back home, Northwestern University will require students to be vaccinated next school year.

Biss’s First Act As Mayor Involves Reimagining Public Safety. Just hours before he was sworn in on May 10 as Evanston’s mayor, Daniel Biss announced the appointment of a Reimagining Public Safety Committee.

Local Author Patrick T. Reardon Discusses History of The Loop at Levy Lectures. Local author Patrick T. Reardon is an expert on many aspects of Chicago history. As an investigative reporter, feature writer, columnist, and editor with the Chicago Tribune for 32 years, he found his writing about the city took him to almost every neighborhood and suburb in Chicagoland.

Les Jacobson: The Two Stevies in a Season of Growth and Hope. The other day I shared on my Facebook page the wonderfully infectious video of Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” synchronized to amazing clips from the Golden Era of Hollywood musicals.

Peggy Tarr: ‘What’s Going On’*. The month of May has several days designated for celebrating events and/or honoring individuals or groups of people, such as May Day, Cinco De Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day. The month itself is given titles that focus on specific interests or groups of people, such as Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

McGuire Powers Kits to Fifth Straight Softball Win Against New Trier. Now that the New Trier-Evanston softball rivalry has turned lopsided in another direction, Madison McGuire still believes it’s special. That’s why the Wildkits’ senior captain thought it was a good idea to bring back some throwback jerseys from the early days (circa 1970s-80s) for the first matchup of the 2021 season. McGuire did her best to make sure the outcome didn’t revert back to the days when the Trevians dominated the head-to-head rivalry – usually by the 10-run slaughter rule.

Evanston Property Assessment Appeals End June 7. Evanston Township is now open for property tax assessment appeals through Monday, June 7. This is the third year of the current three-year assessment period. Because of this, and the fact that the Assessor lowered the majority of assessments as a result of the COVID pandemic, it may not be as essential to appeal at this time. 

Applications are now being accepted for the next class of Leadership Evanston. Founded by the Evanston Community Foundation in 1992, more than 800 individuals who live or work in Evanston have graduated from Leadership Evanston Signature – and 80% of them are still here, participating in Evanston community’s life. The Signature program begins in September 2021 and concludes in June 2022.

COVID-19 by the numbers: We are checking in with many sources to keep you updated on COVID-19 cases and vaccine information.

  • Eight cases were reported yesterday in Evanston; the seven-day average is six.
  • Northwestern University reported 10 new cases for the seven days ending May 9. Northwestern students, staff and professors living in Evanston are included in City test and case counts
  • The number of cases per 100,000 population over the past seven days is 58 in Evanston, 116 in suburban Cook County, and 105 in Illinois.
  • Our City’s seven-day positive test rate is 0.7%; the test positive rate in suburban Cook County is 4.2%, and in Illinois is 2.7%.
  • Some 4.6 million or 36.2% of total Illinois residents are fully vaccinated.

Around the Web

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